MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tina Turner’s famous legs and Elvis Presley’s blue suede shoes are larger than life in a new public art installation along busy Summer Avenue in Binghampton.
Friday, California artist John Cerney put the finishing touches on the 18-foot-tall mural of the music legends in front of what used to be an automotive repair shop. Cerney said the property owner commissioned the work to spruce up the neighborhood.
“He said he wanted to paint a tribute to iconic musical legends of Memphis and wanted to start with Elvis and Tina Turner because I guess she was born near here,” said Cerney. “He told me the story about buying up old buildings. Like that blue building where the mural is, there will be no business there. It will just be public art.”
Cerney said each figure took nearly two weeks to paint. He did the work in his shop in Salinas, California, and drove the pieces across the country to assemble and bolt to a stage built by a local construction company.
“I normally put my work in dirt and ground with posts and concrete,” said Cerney. “This was a first for me. I had to be able to tie into the stage and not have wind possibly knock it over. So, I probably over-engineered a lot of bolts in it to hold it together.”
Cerney said he likes to create sculptures in the middle of lettuce fields or large murals on the sides of barns to expose everyone to art. He’s hoping this mural will not only create a great social media moment for tourists but inspire the people who drive by it every day.
“Some of the locals have been walking by and wondering what’s going on, and they are amazed there is no business here. He just did it to make it look pretty. They like that, you know. It’s cool,” said Cerney.
The Memphis man behind the public art project has chosen to remain anonymous.